Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Restricted Principles

Europe Seeks to Ban Food from Clones.

Despite the title, the attempt is for some reason limited to animals. Shouldn't the same principle apply to plants--for which cloning, in the form of grafting, is a very old and very common technology?

Of course, banning cloned plants pretty much means banning wine, aside from whatever can be produced from wild grapes. And apples. And most other fruit. But if it's a matter of principle ... .

9 Comments:

At 2:50 AM, July 08, 2010, Anonymous Henry said...

I am confused as to why so many ostensible liberals are hardcore bio-conservatives.

 
At 9:00 AM, July 08, 2010, Blogger Michael said...

I don't see how the economics of cloning animals would work. Grafting of plants is done because you could take the best tasting apple you ever had, plant the seeds and end up with worthless bitter fruit.

This doesn't work for animals. The cloning would occur before the animal became food so the quality isn't known. Also, it's a lot cheaper to turn a few bulls lose on the herd than bringing in a team of genetic engineers to accomplish a similar task with a lower rate of success.

 
At 7:29 PM, July 08, 2010, Anonymous Chris George said...

I think it's common ethics, that I'd tend to agree with, that animals are deserving of more concern than plants. I mean I've never heard of a "plant's rights" or "plant abuse." That being said, I have no idea what goes on in animal cloning, how risky it is, etc. so you can probably disregard my comment.

 
At 8:53 PM, July 08, 2010, Blogger Michael said...

Many plants are design to be cloned. Yank a leaf off, stick it in the ground and you have a new plant. Animals don't work that way. You need a egg donor, the source DNA, a surrogate, a lab and luck that the process will take.

I don't see much risk in cloned animals being food unless foreign genes are add to the clones.

Animals use their genes differently than plants. If the intent is to genetically engineer animals and then clone them, then you might run in to health risks.

 
At 6:55 AM, July 09, 2010, Anonymous SheetWise said...

Please leave the laboratory out of this ... my life is complete as long as I can dwell on my reincarnation as a gomer.

 
At 12:36 AM, July 10, 2010, Blogger Jonathan said...

The headline "Europe seeks..." is badly written. It turns out to mean "The European Parliament seeks..."

Maybe the European Parliament likes to think it speaks for Europe, but I don't suppose most Europeans would agree.

 
At 12:37 AM, July 10, 2010, Blogger Peter said...

I don't think modern genetic engineering and more traditional methods of changing plants are 100% comparable. The main difference I think is that with modern tools we can make much more radical changes to plants or animals, whereas before changes were incremental, which allowed 'safe' experimentation. That said, I see no reason why animals and plants should be treated differently, except perhaps for ethical reasons (although I have always been puzzled when these animanl ethics concerns are voiced by non-vegetarians)

 
At 7:47 AM, July 10, 2010, Blogger David Friedman said...

Peter compares modern genetic engineering to more traditional ways of changing plants. But the story was about cloning, which isn't a way of changing either plants or animals--it's a way of getting new plants or animals that are genetically identical to old ones.

 
At 7:32 PM, July 22, 2010, Blogger Doc Merlin said...

This has nothing to do with food and much to do with the political economy of food production and the protected status of european farmers.

 

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